The Amersfoort high school hasn’t even been open for two full weeks or the first cases of the virus are present. On the weekend of 13 September the school found out that multiple teachers have been infected with the corona virus.
Over a span of two days, two teachers have been tested positive and three more are waiting at home until they can get tested. The school is now waiting to see how many more tests will come out positive and what this will mean for the next few weeks. Worries and fears are spreading throughout the school, what will the consequences be of this outbreak be and how they will continue to follow their classes if there are that many people sick at home. In the image, you can see that it’s almost impossible to keep a safe distance between the students. The Dutch government has declared that under the age of 18, children don’t have to stay the mandatory 1,5 meters apart because of a lower risk of infection. This came as good news to the students when it was first announced, but might now have helped with the virus spreading even faster.
On 15 May the Dutch government announced that high schools would reopen by 1 July, from that moment there were varying responses in the media. Students were happy to go back to school, but the lingering risk of a new outbreak stayed. Ever since schools reopened on 1 September, there have been over 130 schools who had cases of the virus, one of them being a high school in Amersfoort.
Agnes B. (46) teaches the Dutch language at the high school and she is also a counselor for third-year students. “With various teachers now being stuck at home because of the virus, the realisation finally came that this was going to be the new normal. Parents are starting to worry about the safety of their children and every class has two to three students missing.” This shows that the rising number of infections causes a lot of worrying and questioning about the safety of going to school. Because the government doesn’t prioritize testing teachers, it means that they will have to wait as long as everyone else until they can get tested. Since there aren’t enough Corona tests available in the region, this means teachers will have to wait for over 3 days to get one or travel to a testing location that’s over 30 minutes away. For now, this means that 5 teachers have to stay home to wait until they can get tested and get their results. For a small high school, this means that the leftover teachers will have to pick up more classes to give the children the education that they need.
A fifteen-year-old student, now in her fourth year, has been following physical classes since 1 June. The outbreak also scared the students. The school is quite small, meaning that the students know most of the teachers. “Hearing that someone that was teaching you only a few days ago is now stuck at home with the Corona virus is quite a surprise and shocking.” Says the student. During the previous classes, they hadn’t always practiced a safe distance to them and the risk of them being infected at school suddenly seems a lot bigger now. Since the outbreak, there have been multiple students sent home because they showed up with a cold. “It feels weird when you see your friends being forced to leave school. I hear from them that some of the parents disagree with the decision of making them leave which worries me. Because if one of them is infected and they still go to school, the chance of them infecting me grows.” She follows up. For now, the student feels safe enough to still go to school but will proceed with caution.
For now, time can only tell how this problem is going to develop. The school is still waiting on various COVID-19 test results, meaning that it’s still unclear how many cases there are at the school and what the following consequences will be. If the number will keep rising, the only solution the school has is to close down the school temporarily and go back to online classes.